NATO Copters for Afghanistan

One of the more prevalent military hardware stories that’s been flying just under the radar for the past few years is the shortage of helicopters for multilateral deployments. The EUFOR Chad force ultimately had to accept a Russian offer of eight copters, along with their operating teams, in order to cover the huge theater of operations under their jurisdiction.

This Defense Industry Daily article describes how Coalition forces in Afghanistan have been forced to lease copters for non-military use from private contractors, in order to free up military copters for operations. This is a false shortage, to the extent that copter capacity exists. There’s just a reluctance among countries that have them to deploy them to war zones, especially when those war zones are located in areas that put heavy wear and tear on the expensive, essential but ultimately vulnerable and somewhat fragile machines.

Meanwhile, the need for copters is directly related to the shortage of boots on the ground, since the former serve as a force multiplier for the latter. Surprisingly, President Barack Obama didn’t shift some of the pressure on NATO allies this weekend away from troops and towards equipment and supplies. Surprisingly, also, we hear more about the F-22 and the presidential helicopter than we do about the aircraft we need most.